AI technology will make us smarter and more efficient in the workplace, according to a Citrix study.
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What will the workplace of 2035 look like? Without a crystal ball it’s hard to say for sure. However, new research from Citrix attempts to shed light on what the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) means for the IT workforce of 15 years’ time.

As AI continues its creep into all corners of major industry, robot-wary employees have speculated about what it means for their own place in the workforce. But contrary to the popular – albeit dystopian – opinion that machines will eventually replace us all, a study of 500 C-suite leaders and 1,000 employees by Citrix concluded that our AI colleagues will in fact make us smarter, more efficient, and open up brand new roles in the IT marketplace.

SEE: Digital Transformation: A CXO’s guide (ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature) | Download the free PDF version (TechRepublic)

These new jobs will be designed to support our technology-driven workplace and the changing relationship between humans and machines, Citrix said. For instance, machine learning and AI algorithms are only as useful as the data they’re trained on; consequently, 82% of leaders and 44% of employees surveyed by Citrix believe that dedicated ‘Robot/ AI trainer’ roles will be needed in the future workplace.

Other new roles predicted for the workforce of 2035 include:

  • Virtual reality manager (79% of leaders and 36% of employees)
  • Advanced data scientist (76% of leaders and 35% of employees)
  • Privacy and trust manager (68% of leaders and 30% of employees)
  • Design thinker (56% of leaders and 27% of employees)

Over half of workers thought that full-time employees would be rare in 15 years; just over half of managers thought the majority of high-value specialist workers will work as on-demand and freelance contractors. Perhaps that’s why two-thirds of execs thought the new role of ‘Temporary Worker Manager’ would exist.

The findings form part of Citrix’s Work 2035 study, a year-long examination of global work patterns to understand the role technology will play in the future of work.

The study looked at how businesses across financial services, healthcare and life sciences, telecommunications, media and technology, professional services, manufacturing and retail expected to embrace AI, machine learning and automation.

More than three-quarters (77%) of professionals believe that, by 2035, AI will significantly speed up their decision-making processes, making them more productive. At the same time, 83% of professionals predict that technology will automate repetitive and low-value tasks, freeing them to focus on more meaningful work.

Yet there appears to be some discord between the enthusiasm of business leaders and employees when it comes to the impact of automation in the workplace. While 73% of business leaders believe that technology and AI will make workers at least twice as productive by 2035, only 39% of employees share their optimism.

Similarly, almost two-thirds of employees (65%) said they were unclear on how their organization will gain a competitive advantage from using AI if it was used by every business, compared to just 16% of business leaders who thought the advantages of AI were unclear.

SEE: Chatbot trends: How organizations are leveraging AI chatbots (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Of course, not all jobs will be safe as AI-driven processes take hold. As more positions are automated, workers need to keep retraining to stay relevant in the new, dynamic job market.

CEOs and CIOs won’t be immune to the transforming landscape, either: 58% of professionals who responded to the study said AI had the potential to make most business decisions, removing the need for a traditional senior management team. And while businesses leaders were far more of the view technology would simply assist and “augment” leadership positions, a third of employees believe that leadership will be either partially or completely replaced by technology by 2035.

The rapid advancement of AI will also call for the creation of new executive roles and departments, Citrix’s study found.

More than 8 in 10 (82%) of business leaders believe that every organization will have a Chief Artificial Intelligence (CAI) by 2035, working in “a human-machine team” with the CEO to make business decisions. At the same time, 90% of leaders believe that future organizations will established a central AI department to oversee all areas of business.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to reimagine the way things get done, and over the next 15 years, they will face more challenges and disruptions than ever,” said Tim Minahan, executive vice president of Business Strategy, Citrix.

“But as Work 2035 makes clear, within this chaos lies opportunity. Savvy companies are using this crisis to begin planning for the ‘next normal’. Not just return to where they were, but to embrace new workforce and work models to power their business forward.”